From Best Practices WIKI
Italy Region of Apulia Province of Brindisi
Sector: Local handicrafts

Basic Information

Company details
Organization name: LIBERA TERRA
Contact: Apulia: Alessandro Leo
Address - city: vico dei Cantelmi, 1 72023 Mesagne (BR)
Phone:349 7417950

Description of Best Practice

In which field can you company consider itself an example of best practice?
Promoting an aware consumption of food products, obtained from lands that have been confiscated from the Mafia, given over to the
collective good and made productive once more – becoming a driving force for a healthy and virtuous economic chain, also thanks to
the participation of the territory’s organic farmers who sympathise with the redemption project.
Type of best practice?
Names of partners in the case of a collective/integrated project
The “Libera Terra” project collaborates with some prestigious partners, each of which have particular competencies necessary for
the carrying out of the project:
Slow Food (promotion, diffusion, technical advice);
Legacoop (social and economic network)
Coop Italia (commercialisation);
Botteghe del Commercio Equo e Solidale – Fair Trade shops (commercialisation)
Alce Nero (technical assistance for the birth of organic co-operatives)
Conapi (technical assistance for bee-keeing equipment)
Cno (National Olive-growers Consortium – technical assistance)
Cgil (promotion and advice).
At the regional level there are attempts at creating a synergy with the Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve and with Coop. Thalassia.
Brief history of the Pilot Action
Description of the ideas behind the development of this action/project; the initiator(s) of the action/project; the involvement of local partners
(LAG, project operators etc.) in the conception/development of the action/project;how this action/project is embedded in the territorial strategy.
The “Libera Terra” project was born following a law proposed by popular petition, promoted by the association “Libera – associations,
names and numbers against the Mafia” - law n.109 (7 March 1996) – MEASURES REGARDING THE MANAGEMENT AND
DESTINATION OF CONFISCATED AND SEQUESTERED GOODS) according to which property confiscated from the Mafia must be
given back to the community and re-used for social aims.
The first initiatives were carried out in Sicily in 1999, where tens of hectares confiscated from “Cosa Nostra” were entrusted to the social
co-operative “Placido Rizzotto – Libera Terra”. The confiscated lands, which once belonged to the Mafia, became productive once more,
and have become a driving force for a healthy and virtuous economic chain, also thanks to the participation of the territory’s organic
farmers who sympathise with the redemption project – demonstrating that acting legally is a good idea.
The products, marketed with the ethical “Libera Terra” brand are grown in full respect for the typical nature and traditions of the territory,
bringing to the tables of Italian families a genuine, good and fair product.
The project supports an aware consumption, because also in this way it is possible to defeat the Mafia.
On the basis of the experiences taking place in Sicily, Calabria and Lazio a “Libera Terra” social co-operative was wanted also in Apulia,
which today works lands and vineyards confiscated from the Mafia of the Salento.
Main activities of the best practice
Description of the main activities planned and put in place, including where and when they took place, and who brought them to a conclusion
(indicating local operators and other subjects).
The main activity is the use of confiscated lands in order to obtain high quality organic products. There are also camps for volunteers,
information points, the restoration of rural dwellings that can be used as small habitations for tourists, the creation of “didactic farms” and
company sales points; all activities which are leading to the creation of a concerted activity in the social re-use of ill-gotten gains.
In particular the co-operative in Apulia is involved in crop-growing (above all in the territory of Mesagne) which will be used in the
production of “frise” and “taralli” (at a mill and a bakery that are certified for organic productions) and vineyards (presently about 20
Hectares in the municipality of Torcharolo) run organically to produce wine that is organically certified.

Qualitative Information Regarding the Product

Describe the area of production
Are there specific resources that characterize your area of reference? Are they agro-alimentary resources or products of handicraft? Are
there interdisciplinary and inter-territorial integrations that confer an added-value to the product?
In the other regions of Italy where the “Libera Terra” project is active (Sicily, Calabria, Campania) products include pasta, olive oil, jams,
Since there is a tendency to differentiate and expand the selection of products, in Apulia there is a production of bakery products (frise,
taralli etc.), but also wine, given that the land has a propensity for vine cultivation.

Product Description of its Relationship with the Market

This part of the questionnaire will cover the description of the product with the indication of the characteristics of the raw materials used, and
of the eventual phases of transformation. Please describe and underline, in the description the specific nature of the product and the
production process which differentiates it from other product that fall into the same typology.
Describe the characteristics and the origin of the main raw materials used
All the raw materials used in producing products with the Libera Terra brand have the peculiarity that they were obtained from
confiscated land that has become productive once more thanks to collaboration with the local productive fabric, and according to organic
production methods.
Describe the production process, and the techniques and methodologies used during processing
If the product presents distinctive characteristics in terms of quality, raw materials, techniques and methods of processing, briefly describe.
The activities conducted on properties confiscated by the social co-operatives don’t exclusively concern their workers and partners. Over
the years there has become established a working method that involves the territory’s “healthy” subjects, making the confiscated
property a resource for the development of the whole socio-economic chain. Above all there is the involvement of the territory’s organic
farmers who sympathise, through production agreements, with the spirit and rules of the project, giving value to the raw materials
collected and passing it on to the Libera Terra co-operative. In the same way, various handicraft structures are involved in the
transformation of the products which arrive, once packaged, on the table with the Libera Terra brand. These activities involve dozens of
people, for who, today, revenge on the Mafia represents the concrete possibility of being able to build a future that is free from violence,
extorsion, favours and privilege, remaining on one’s own land.
A fundamental principle is contained in the involvement of the entire social fabric. For example, in the production of wine in Apulia, as
well as uprooting the old plants and substituting them with native varieties, a winery was located that as well as providing the required
requisites from a qualitative point of view was also suitable in terms of its legal requisites (re recruitment of personnel, payment of
personnel, absence of links with people with penal precedents etc.). There is also a plan to involve some local schools in the design of a
label for the wines, so as to make the children aware of issues concerning legality.
Specify any variations in the product in relation to the different areas and typologies
(E.g: ………in the area of this Municipality ………….. one uses olives that are treated in a different way than in other bordering
Describe how the product is presented on the market (state the brand or describe the pack used)
(E.g: “Pane d’ Altamura”(Bread from Altamura) is packaged inside......…... The dimension o f the bag is.... colour, etc ........)
The product is sold using the ethical brand “Libera Terra” both in the large-scale retail trade (Coop Italia) and in the network of “Botteghe
del Commercio equo e solidale” (Fair Trade shops). Information regarding the spirit that characterises the co-operatives producing
“Libera Terra” products is very evident on the label.
Describe the product’s market outlets and its diffusion locally, nationally and internationally
The products are sold at national level mainly through the large-scale retail trade, in particular by the COOP. Another channel is that of
the national chain of “Botteghe del Commercio equo e solidale” (Fair Trade shops). Also, as of about a year, there are present on the
national territory the first examples of the “Botteghe dei Sapori della Legalità”, which only sell products bearing the “Libera Terra” brand.
The product is sold:
Only on the local market Also outside regional borders 100 % of total sold
State the sales channels used when marketing the product
The products are sold at national level mainly through the large-scale retail trade, in particular by the COOP. Another channel is that of
the national chain of “Botteghe del Commercio equo e solidale” (Fair Trade shops). Also, as of about a year, there are present on the
national territory the first examples of the “Botteghe dei Sapori della Legalità”, which only sell products bearing the “Libera Terra” brand.
Thanks to the partnership with the COOP it sometimes happens that demand exceeds supply.
During the process of company improvement aimed at promoting products locally and Europe-wide have you created a
marketing plan?
On the one hand marketing is entrusted to the anti-mafia associations linked to the “Libera” association, which promote products coming
from co-operatives that are working lands freed from the Mafia. To this is added the project’s collateral actors, the network of
associations supporting “Libera” and the marketing initiatives put in place by its distrbutors. Concerning the marketing of the wine this is
entrusted to Ascione Associati, a national company that is specialised in marketing.
How much did it cost to take forward this best practice? In terms of cost, time and resources?
Specify length, starting date, end, etc.
The “Libera Terra” project starts with a minimum economic support from Italia Lavoro Spa (a company connected to the Ministry for
Welfare) for the partners of the co-operative. However, the costs of the restoration of confiscated and often abbandoned lands is often
the responsibility of “Libera”, which invests in the birth of new co-operatives without the necessary economic support of the Government.
It is a huge economic effort for an association aimed at social promotion, but without any alternative it seems the only way of
recuperating those lands for the community, which otherwise would remain abandoned as a symbol of the inertia and inefficiency of the
power of the State.
Concrete outputs and results of the action / project
Explanation of the concrete outputs and the results of the whole action/project for the territory; identification of the direct beneficiaries of the
Following the experiences in Sicily and Calabria, the “Libera Terra – Apulia” project foresees the use of property confiscated from the
Mafia in the province of Brindisi, in the municipalities of Mesagne, Torchiarolo and San Pietro Vernotico. It comprises about 20 hectares
already being cultivated for organic wheat –thanks to which Libera Terra’s first Apulian “tarallini” have been produced, soon to be
circulated in Coop hypermarkets – and about 30 hectares of typical vines, being restored after years of neglect thanks to the work of
agronomists connected to the Slow Food circuit. The partners of the emerging co-operative will be pin-pointed through a public
notification (published from 18 June 2007 until next September 7th) which will be communicated across the whole country. Following the
selection of the participants there will be a period of training aimed at gaining the knowledge and competencies that will be needed
within the new co-operative. Partners of the project, other than the municipalities interested by the confiscated properties, the Prefecture
of Brindisi and “Libera”, are the Province of Brindisi and Italia Lavoro Spa (with the resources of “Programma Pari”). Another participant
is the national agency “Co-operating with Libera Terra”, a network of economic subjects of national importance (Legacoop, Conapi,
Unipol and numerous others) who place their competencies at the service of the challenges of “Libera Terra”.
The underlying objective is therefore the birth of a new social co-operative which might be successful in terms of legality, quality and
sustainability, and which at the same time signals the ability to give back to the community that which has been taken away by violence
and arrogance, so that it might become a symbol of a possibility for redemption, justice and development of the whole Apulian territory.
Problems encountered; lessons learned
Explanation of the main problems encountered, how they were solved and the lessons learned..
The problems encountered during the journey being travelled by “Libera Terra” are closely connected to the lack of legal dispositions
governing the sequestration and confiscation of property – an example of which is the excessive amount of time that passes between
sequestration, definitive confiscation and destination of the property, something which often leads to the degradation of the confiscated
property. There is also a lack in the funds necessary for restoring the properties, and sometimes the properties are occupied by
members of the mafia or people connected to them. Finally, it is impossible for the receiving subjects (e.g. the social co-operatives) to
take out loans on the basis of the confiscated property, which as it is owned by the State is not available.
This requires, therefore, a reform of Law 109/96, starting with the constitution of a National Agency for the control and management of
the process regarding confiscated property and including the provision of funds that can incentivise and help the social recovery of
property freed from the Mafia.
The added value of this best practice
...regarding the method, the process and the results. If carried out within a LAG (Local Action Group) describe the way in which Leader+ has brought a
clear added value.
The added value of the “Libera Terra” project is in the alliance between social and economic aims: the birth of a new social co-operative
that can be successful regarding legality, quality and sustainability, and which at the same time signals the ability to give back to the
community that which has been taken away by violence and arrogance, so that it might become a symbol of a possibility for redemption,
justice and development of the whole Apulian territory.

Why this Action/Project is a Good Practice?

Approach aimed at promoting partnership
“The “Libera Terra” project, by its very nature, creates a very wide network of partnerships. At a first level it involves the institutions, the
local bodies where the confiscated properties are located and national partners operating across the territory. The network of cooperation
extends to local economic subjects who want to support a successful result of the project, and there is also the
encouragement of a packed social network around the symbolic value of the “Libera Terra” co-operative, so that it might become a
reference point for the territory’s anti-mafia movement.
Creation of a network and cooperation between areas
The “Libera Terra” project was born in Sicily and has already proved itself very transferable to other territories that want to make it their
own, such as Lazio and Calabria. The conditions of transferability are linked, first of all, to the political will to affront the social recovery of
property confiscated according to the practices proposed by Libera.

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